United hold Wits to 1-1 draw

2016-12-28 06:01
 Mohau Mokate of Maritzburg United and Sfiso Hlanti of Bidvest Wits during the Absa Premiership match between the two sides at Harry Gwala Stadium Tuesday night. Mokate scored the equaliser for United in an entertaining clash that ended 1-1. PHOTO: Gallo Images

Mohau Mokate of Maritzburg United and Sfiso Hlanti of Bidvest Wits during the Absa Premiership match between the two sides at Harry Gwala Stadium Tuesday night. Mokate scored the equaliser for United in an entertaining clash that ended 1-1. PHOTO: Gallo Images

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TEN-MAN Maritzburg United drew 1-1 against title-chasing Bidvest Wits at Harry Gwala Stadium last night in an exciting game that extended their unbeaten run to five games, and saw them leapfrog Orlando Pirates in the league.

Former Team of Choice striker Cuthbert Malajila opened the scoring in the 70th minute on the night after coming on as a substitute. But their lead lasted only four minutes as Mohau Mokate levelled matters, and earned a point for Fadlu Davids’ men.

The talking point from the exciting first half was the performance of the referee, Mark Harrison, who somehow let Wits off with some rough challenges, while also managing to pick out light fouls committed by United.

Both sides had chances to open the scoring in the first 45 minutes, but perhaps the best one of the early exchanges fell to Gabadinho Mhango, who missed the target with Bongane Mpandle well beaten.

United’s defence, however, managed to regroup, and the quartet of Denis Weid­lich, Bevan Fransman, Kwanda Mngon­yama and Brian Onyango dealt with the threat posed by the Clever Boys’ attackers with ease.

While they did prove to be dangerous at times, Wits strikers Mhango and Phakamani Mahlambi were firmly in the pockets of United’s back four, and they could not get a sniff of the goal.

For United, there were rare chances where they got the large partisan crowd gathered at Harry Gwala excited, but they just could not find an opening. The loudest the crowd got was when United skipper Kurt Lentjies was given his marching orders for a reckless two-footed challenge on former Bafana Bafana defender Siboniso Gaxa.

Like most games played here this season, both teams went into the break without scoring, and there were loud boos from the United faithful, who were not happy that the ref had sent off their captain, and made some dodgy calls during the duration of the half.

The second half started at a frantic pace with both sides looking to take the lead. United were seemingly happy playing route one football — playing long balls over the top and hoping their speedy wide men would find an opening, but they were unable to.

Gaxa was withdrawn by Wits coach Gavin Hunt and his replacement, former United star Cuthbert Malajila, had an immediate impact when he broke the deadlock for the Students, giving them a 1-0 lead.

Wits’ lead, however, did not last long as Mohau Mokate pulled one back, and brought the home crowd back to life, giving Fadlu Davids’ 10 men real hope that they could hit the back of the net again, and steal all three points against Wits.

For the longest time after the equaliser, the Clever Boys bombarded United’s box with cross after cross, but they were well dealt with by United’s back four, although there was nearly a costly touch by Mngonyama, who inadvertently laid the ball onto the feet of Malajila, who scuffed his shot and failed to score.

In the end, both teams had to settle for the point, and it was enough to lift United to seventh in the league, and Wits to the top of the log.

In other games, Highlands Park and Platinum Stars drew 2-2, while Orlando Pirates’ woeful run continued when they were defeated 3-2 by Bloemfontein Celtic at Orlando Stadium.


Maritzburg United 1, Bidvest Wits 1

Orlando Pirates 1, Bloemfontein Celtic 2

Highlands Park 2, Platinum Stars 2

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